South African doctors at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Tshwane used 3D-printed middle ear bones to perform the world's first middle ear transplant, CapeTalk reported. The patient, a 35-year-old-man, had his hearing severely compromised after damaging his ear in a car accident. Thanks to the groundbreaking surgery, he will fully regain his hearing.
Lead surgeon Professor Mashudu Tshifularo from the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Health Sciences has spent the past decade researching the right prosthesis for middle ear transplant surgery. With the major advances to 3D-printing and modeling over the past several years, Tshifularo realized that it was the best option.
“Two years ago, I started to see that 3D printing is the way to go,” he said. “I met with some of my collaborators who agreed we can do this thing. Then the idea became real.”
The prosthetic ear bones were printed out of titanium, and Professor Tshifularo predicts that similar operations will be made more widely available in the near future.